OnDemand
August 20th, 2016

A New Cycle of Protest? Occupy Wall Street and Beyond

Description

Five years ago, a new wave of social movements emerged in the United States and worldwide, beginning with the Occupy Wall Street movement which began in New York City and then spread across the nation and the globe. This in turn gave rise to a variety of other social movements, from Black Lives Matter, to the Fight for 15, and more. Panelists will discuss this new cycle of protest, its impact and its future prospects.

Speakers

>> I'm Ruth Milkman from the ASA Presidency, I'm happy to welcome you all here this evening to what I think is going to be a very exciting discussion.
[Applause]
This is a conversation about social movements in the post-Occupy Wall Street era, that is in the last five years since 2001, and we have three wonderful speakers who are going to share their insights
on that topic. Our first speaker I think is familiar to most people here in the conference but I'm going to introduce her anyway, and it's Frances Fox Piven.
[Applause]
Frances, as you may remember, is a former ASA President and, lucky me, she is also my colleague at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she's a Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology.
She has taught at many other places including Columbia University and Boston University and various places around the world over the years. Fran is probably still best known for two classic works
that she co-authored with the late Richard Cloward, "Regulating the Poor," first published back in 1972 but still widely read, and five years later in 1977 she and Cloward published, "Poor People's
Movements: Why They Succeed, How they Fail," which is also very widely read today, I actually just used it in a course recently. A bit later with, also with Cloward, she wrote a book that you
probably have read or heard of called, "Why Americans Don't Vote," followed later by another one called, "Why Americans Still Don't Vote."
[Laughter]
More recently she published a book in 2006 called, "Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America." And that book, like the ASA Presidential Address she delivered at this conference around
that same time, in 2007 I think it was, argues that disruptive actions undertaken by ordinary people are the key to social change, perhaps she'll say more about this tonight, I'm not sure what her
plan is. But that thesis is one that she's developed over the entire arc of her long career. Some of you may know about the articles she co-authored with Cloward back in 1966, before many people in
this room were born but anyway, some of us were around, for The Nation magazine, it was called, "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty." And it had a new lease on life a few years ago
when the right wing media commentator Glenn Beck made it famous all over again in 2011, attacking that article and Fran for, as the source of all things left and therefore all things evil in the
United States and.
[Applause]
Hey all publicity is good publicity right? But anyway. So Fran is not only a renowned scholar, I've given you just at taste of her many works, but also a lifelong activist. She was active in the
Welfare Rights movement and later led the effort to pass the 1993 so-called Motor Voter law and many other, she's been involved in many other social movements. For me, she's a model of a public
intellectual and scholar activist and I feel extremely lucky that she's my colleague and friend. So that's our first speaker.
She will be followed by Sarah Jaffe. Sarah Jaffe is currently a fellow at the Nation Institute.
[Applause]
Thank you already, Sarah's right here. The Nation Institute is an offshoot of The Nation magazine as you probably know. Sarah is a New York based independent journalist who covers labor, social
movements, gender, pop culture and more. Her work has appeared in many different publications including The Nation as you might imagine, Salon, The American Prospect, The Washington Post, The
Atlantic, and many other publications including, I'm proud to say, Footnotes, where she was kind enough to, you know, if you get elected to this position that I have as ASA President, Footnotes
publishes a sort of biographical sketch about your life and Sarah was kind enough to do the one on me and she did a superb job as I might say so myself but I was just delighted with the product and
so, yeah, she writes for many publications and doesn't always get paid for them, which was the case with Footnotes. She's also the cohost, with Michelle Chen, of a podcast called Belabored which is
about labor issues. It's sponsored by Dissent Magazine which she also writes for, she's an editorial board member at Dissent, and also a columnist at New Labor Forum, a journal that's published at
the Murphy Institute of CUNY where I also work.
 
Sarah, a little bit earlier in her career, was also the web director at GRITtv with Laura Flanders which, if you're familiar with that, is an amazing resource. She was one of the first reporters to
cover Occupy Wall Street and The Fight for 15, and she has just published, like literally, it comes out officially in two days, her first book, which I have a copy of here and she'll be talking about
a little bit, I mean her talk will be based on the book, it's called, Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt. And it's about exactly our topic tonight so she's sort of the perfect person to
contribute. This book, if you're interested in looking at it or buying it, it will be available here at the conference, not at this session, but at the Westview Press booth in the book exhibit in the
Convention Center, and she will also be there at 12:30 tomorrow to sign copies so, but you'll get a preview of it shortly. So, that's something to check out and I think, I guess it's not in paperback
yet but once it is it will be a perfect book for course adoption. I've read it already and I commend it highly. Okay, so that's our second speaker, and then Sarah will be followed by Paul Mason. Paul
Mason is, came here all the way from London where he is based. He's also another journalist and a book writer. He's also a visiting professor at the University of Wolverhampton. He is based in London
but he, FYI for those of you who care about these things English, he grew up in the north near Manchester, did I say that right? I've been lectured on how to pronounce that word which I'm never going
to. Paul has published five books besides being an extremely prolific journalist. One of those books, and why I really wanted him on this panel, has influenced my own thinking a lot and it was
published in, well it was published twice, first in 2012 under the title Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions, it was about the events of 2011 around the world. And then he
published a slightly revised version, called Why It's Still Kicking Off Everywhere the following year. His most recent book is called Post Capitalism: A Guide to our Future which just came out last
year, and he's already at work on another one that he'll tell you about. He wrote all these books, those two books and three others, while working full time as a journalist and a TV editor at the
BBC, which he joined first in 2001 after several years doing print journalism. I kind of like this little factoid that I found on the web, while at the BBC. I'm a labor sociologist among other things
as you all know. He was also active in the National Union of Journalists and his title there was Father of the Chapel. Isn't that quaint? He received many, many awards for his journalism. Prior to
becoming a journalist he was a professional musician so this is a renaissance man if you will. His most recent post in the broadcast world was as Economics Editor at Channel 4 News which, as he
explained to me earlier today, is not a BBC operation but it is also sponsored by the British government. However, he recently left that position just this past February, is that right?
>> To become a full time freelancer and he'll maybe say a little bit about why. So that's our lineup and without further ado let's start with Fran and I hope there'll be a little time for questions at
>> Yeah.
the end if they stick to their 20-minute allocations, we'll see.
[Applause]
Oh, one more thing, I'm sorry. Before you start, I just want to remind everybody that after this event, right after this, at 9:45 tonight in this room, Sociologists for Justice is sponsoring a
discussion meeting about what, if anything, we as sociologists can do to support the Black Lives Matter movement and other such things. So if you have, if you're not too tired please stick around for
that, thanks. Fran.
>> Thank you.
[Applause]
I'm going to talk about movements but before I do, I want to take this opportunity, because I may not have another, and because my friend Sally Hillsman is sitting right there, I want to thank Sally
for her stewardship of the American Sociological Association for these many years, because she is stepping down, getting free, and I think she's been a wonderful leader of the ASA, so thank you Sally
and.
[Applause]
We're very grateful to you. Well, movements. Clearly, we're in a worldwide movement era. You know I think I've been saying that for a number of years and at first people doubted me but then the
movements erupted everywhere, in the Middle East, in, particularly in Latin America, even in Europe and in the United States. I think that the record of these movements across the globe is very
mixed. But the United States, and I think this has something to do with the kind of electoral representative democracy that we have here, very flawed but very sensitive to movements, in the United
States the protest movements, beginning with Wisconsin Occupy, Black Lives Matter, Fight for 15, the protest movements have already had an impact on American society. And although it's a little bit
soon, they haven't sort of filled out the arc of their development, we can certainly hope that, like earlier protest movements in the United States, they will leave a legacy of reform.
Why protest movements? Everybody asks that question, sociologists in particular ask that question. And for the last couple of years, what people have been saying, in a general way, is that the protest
movements are a response to the broken promises of America, broken promises to the young who get out of school without prospects, who find themselves unemployed, in debt, and to the many people who
are even losing what they once had, the homes that they saved up for and so on. Broken promises produces anger, despair even, and people express that by rising up in collective action. That idea,
under somewhat different formulations, that idea is actually a revival of 19th century social thought about movements. It's the idea that people rise up when their expectations are disappointed, when
they are frustrated. Movements are an expression of frustration aggression, is that familiar from when you went to college? Or movements reflect once-gets gaps, that's a little bit of Marx, a little
bit, a lot of Durkheim, and the enduring influence of the social scientists, including historians by the way like Barringon Moore, Krane Britton, Ted Robert Kur, who followed in the mid-20th century.
Well, I think that that's basically right, and in a way we went back in trying to explain this movement period. We took a long detour around recent social movement studies. Recent social movement
studies which we variously labeled resource mobilization or political process study, it was a big detour. What this recent social movement work argued was that social movements could be explained by
the capacities that people had, resources that they had, that were yielded by social organization. Movements rose up not out of any anger, defiance, hope, anguish, but movements but movements rose up
out of normal society and movement dynamics, it was just politics, movement dynamics reflected normal social routines. For example, quite famously, a number of movement scholars explained the food
riots that swept through Europe in the 19th century as simply a reflection of the market practices, the local market practices that prevailed in Europe, which now functioned as a result of shortages,
so the people reinstated those practices on their own initiative.
So much was this idea that movements were just normal politics, it was people acting as an expression of the dominant social norms, so much was this believed that Charles Tilly even coined the
expression WUNC, movements were an expression of worthiness, unity, necessity? What's N, do you remember Ruth?
>> Numbers.
>> Numbers, and commitment. Well, some movements were normal. And it seems to me to have followed naturally that many of the young scholars schooled in this work went on to study the Civil Rights
movement and why not, that was the big movement, the exciting movement, the glorious movement of their youth, and to declare, indiscriminately, that the Civil Rights movement, and indeed all
important movements, were nonviolent, which conveniently ignored certain aspects of the movement that scholars did not want to see. Well. So sociologists also did some work on what I want to
especially focus on tonight, on the dynamic between movements and electoral politics. And what they worked on particularly was the movement's impact, what impact did movements have on electoral
politics, electoral representative politics. The, and I think in general the conclusion was that movements achieved their gains through electoral politics. So this was really something that movement
activists themselves probably did not see, did not agree with, but social scientists studying movements thought, for example, that the impact of the Abolitionists was through electoral politics,
after all the Abolitionists succeeded in helping to create the conditions for a new political party, the election of Abraham Lincoln, the new birth of freedom and so on. Or, Labor, the Labor movement
and New Deal electoral politics. Or the Civil Rights movement and Democratic Party electoral politics. And subsequently the Feminist movement or the LGBTER movement.
Now all these movements that people were studying, and this has often been said we're on the left, but one could say something like this about right-wing movements too, they also had their impact,
through their on electoral politics, and maybe we're seeing something like this with the really peculiar Trump campaign. Well, the core dynamics of movements and electoral politics are in tension.
Elected politicians, political operatives working for political parties in the United States and in most other electoral democracies, what they try to do, the dynamic that governs their decisions, is
they try to build majorities for their candidate, their ticket, their list, whatever. And that's how you win in electoral politics. Movement leaders do something very different, movement leaders try
to create division, they tried to raise issues that show how we are different from, some distance from, are arguing with, are in conflict with others. Movements try to raise the issues of a
particular constituency in contrast to the majority coalition that the elected politician is trying to create. And movements try to do this by raising issues which are desensual issues. If you're
running for President you want to talk about what Ronald Reagan talked about, sunrises and sunsets and lovely things that we can all appreciate about America, America. But if you're trying to
organize a movement, you want to raise fiery issues that inspire people to engage in conflict so, and you'll do that by raising issues that are contentious, and you'll also do that by doing things
that are contentious, by engaging in the kinds of action that people have recently been calling disruption. Sometimes that's marches with banners and noise, and it's also stoppages, refusals, actions
that shut things down. So these are completely different dynamics, and it's the interplay of these two dynamics that explain the occasional happy marriage between movements and electoral politics.
It's very occasional but it does happen. Think about it. When the Abolitionist movement, a really sort of relentlessly, self-righteous movement fortunately, that movement infuriated the south, while
the politicians that were the leaders of the two major intersectional parties in the United States tried desperately to keep the the two sections together. But throughout, for 30 years, the
Abolitionists with their printing presses, their oratory, their efforts to secrete slaves out of the south and manage their flight into Canada or into the northern states, the Abolitionists
infuriated the south to the point that the south seceded. First they broke apart the major parties, they seceded from the intersectional churches, and ultimately they broke apart the Federalists and
the Democrats.
Only because they did this, because they had created divisions in the face of politicians who were trying to create unity, only because they did this were they able, only because the south seceded,
were they able to secure the amendments to the American Constitution that freed the slaves, at least freed the slaves nominally. And you can see something of the same thing in the dynamics of the
Democratic Party and the Labor movement in the 1930s, where it was the Labor movement, the rise of the Labor movement, that infuriated the business constituents, or business backers, of the
Democratic Party, and only as business deserted the Democratic Party, did the National Labor Relations Act become passable. Or you could see it again, this dynamic, this strangely different dynamics,
coming together to secure political victories with the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. The Civil Rights movement drove the south out of the Democratic Party, and only when it had driven
the south out of the Democratic Party, did the Civil Rights Act of 1954 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 become possible. This is, I think, the movement electoral dynamic in the short term that
accounts for victories of the movements in an electoral representative system. But over the longer run, as the movement subsides, elected politicians work with a full panoply of strategies, not to
just concede to the movement, to try to rebuild their majorities. And in this second phase of electoral movement dynamics, the relationship between the movement and elected politicians, or electoral
politics, changes dramatically.
We've seen this change already in the receding of the Pink Tide in Latin America. The Latin American movements, that began with the protests against structural adjustment policies, made remarkable
gains across Latin America. With the economic downturn that accompanies the decline of the extraction industries, the movements have subsided, and as they have, another kind of relationship between
electoral politics and movements takes precedence. The movements or, and their constituencies are, now face revived clientelist politics, and the absorption of movement leaders. Is something like
this also happening in Greece with Syriza? I'm not sure, and I'm looking forward to Paul's comments on that kind of question. But the relevance of this for us here in the United States I think is
very great. The movements are still with us, the movements fueled the rise of the Sanders campaign. The Sanders campaign, in turn, pushed the dominant Democratic contender, and the person who will no
doubt be President of the United States, to the left, at least rhetorically. But now seem to be in a second stage, so we confront a kind of challenge, how can this dynamic, this relationship between
movement dynamics and electoral dynamics, be managed in a way so that when a government, an elected government, takes power, partly as a result of a movement dynamic, the government nourishes the
movements instead of co-opts it. Thank you very much.
[Applause]
>> Thank you Fran, our next speaker is Sarah Jaffe.
[Applause]
>> All right, I am going to not go overtime I promise. I wanted to say, before I get started, thank you to Ruth Milkman for inviting me to talk to people in front of whom I' eminently unqualified to
speak, I am not a socialist, I took one sociology class as an undergrad. It was great, I should have taken more of them but, unfortunately, and I'm incredibly flattered to be up here with these two
amazing speakers, both of whom I've known for years and both of whose work has influenced me in many, many ways so I'm really flattered to be up here in front of all of you and with the people that
I'm on stage with. As Ruth said, I wrote a book about movements, and it is out now. And it's the product of, I mean I wouldn't have a career as a journalist if I had not come along at the time when
all of these movements were happening, nobody would have been remotely interested in me wanting to write about labor, that was like not a thing people did in 2008, not until Wisconsin protesters took
over the State Capitol building. And certainly, you know, nobody would have been interested in me talking about what we think about Capitalism had Occupy Wall Street not come along so. My favorite
discussions of the movements of the last couple of years, both actually are quoted in my book in different places from the same person who is a Occupy Homeless Minnesota organizer, Cat Salonik. In
one instance she said that Occupy Wall Street was like a dandelion that got blown into the wind and the seeds landed where they did and they spouted, and Occupy Homeless was one of those seeds and
then that grew and then blew out on its own. And then later she also talked about movements as like, the tide comes in, and these groups that are left behind are like tide pools and they try to hang
on to all the people who came out with the latest round and then, you know, the tide goes back out and they stay in those pools and they try to hang on and then hopefully the tide comes in again and
goes a little bit further out and the tide pools move a little further out, and I think that's what we've been seeing basically in the years since the financial crisis, that there have been different
iterations, these different uprisings. Some of them are things that movement scholars would probably call movements of, they're a little bit more temporary, but in each case there have been people
who have been brought in that then go on to be part of the next thing.
So I date the beginning of all of this to the 2008 financial crisis, which I don't think will shock anybody in here, but I do think there are other routes that are important, I want to mention
Hurricane Katrina which I think we've seen the importance of that, and what we saw happen during that in the Black Lives Matter movement and. Yeah, and somebody asked me the other day, you know, the
?
of the frog in the boiling water that, you know, since the 1970s, like I'm 36, basically my entire lifetime, these things have been getting worse, but in 2008 the water suddenly got turned up all the
way, and we really saw what had been going on when you have ten percent unemployment and people are losing their homes, and sometimes they've even paid their mortgage and the bank is just closing,
foreclosing on their home because their paperwork is bad. And you really got to see what was happening. And so, you know, that's, that was eight years ago now and here we are, there are Occupations
outside of the City Hall in New York, there's an Occupation that we talked, that the panelists talked about earlier today, outside of Homan Square, the police black site in Chicago. Fight for 15 just
held its convention. And you know, I'll get to Bernie Sanders. But, the description for this panel, you know, begins with Occupy and I start my book with Republic Windows and Doors Occupation in
2008, I don't know if anybody remembers that. Yes, all right.
That's good. And these were workers who, you know, got told they were going to be laid off because Bank of America wasn't going to give their business any more credit, and they were going to lose
[Applause]
their jobs, and they said no we aren't, and they sat down in the factory and they didn't leave. And this got, this got so much mainstream news, I remember watching, you know, MSNBC and CNN and they
were talking about this, with this idea that maybe this was going to keep happening, and it really didn't, there were other attempts to kick-start something but, you know, then everybody remembers
what happened next right, some guy went out onto the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade and yelled about having a tea party and throwing mortgage-backed securities into Lake, which Lake is it,
Michigan? And it was quite unclear what he was protesting but that kick-started this thing that we think of as the Tea Party. And, you know there's a tendency, particularly among liberal
commentators, to kind of think the Tea Party is only an Astro Turf movement and I don't think that's true, I think we have to be really honest about, actually there's a great article recently about
this that, about how the AstroTurf people actually bankrupted the grassroots activists that were out there. But I think we have to think about what the Tea Party did, and in this particular case when
I don't have that much time, I'm just going to talk about the fact that the media tends to think movements are weird, are illegible, are kind of just people who should, have no demands ad have no
point and should go away. And so the fact that when the Tea Party started, Fox News really invested itself in covering this thing and legitimizing this thing and saying that people who were
disrupting Town Halls and shouting down members of Congress and going out and holding mass protests, were good, and they were patriotic and they were justified, and this was a thing that was totally
a reasonable to do politics. What did that leave us with? And that, you know, I think, and the Tea Party person that I interviewed for my book also agrees with me that this actually gave us some
validation for the kinds of destructive protest we saw afterwards. Of course, the Tea Party was the only thing that was in the news for a while until 2011 and then, I was a little wannabe Labor
reporter who really wanted to write about Unions and nobody, including the left media, wanted to pay me to write about unions and then, there was this Bill that proposed to take away collective
bargaining from public sector workers and most people thought that nobody cared about that until 80,000 people came and took over the Wisconsin State Capitol and hold it for a month.
And, you know, I think that in that space there are a few things but the one that I'm going to focus on is that we started to see the Occupations take shape that we've seen over and over again over
the last few years. It was a space where there was a library and there was childcare and there was art making and there were people camping out and they were creating this little model society inside
this space while also having a demand which was kill the Bill. And, you know, well, Walker didn't kill the Bill, and Fran covered a little bit the issue of electoral politics and I get into that more
in the book but I'm going to leave that one there that Scott Walker is unfortunately still Governor of Wisconsin. But later in 2011 we got Occupy Wall Street, and I lived in New York at the time and
I walked down to this little thing a couple of days in and, Paul will get into this but the first person I met at Occupy Wall Street was from Spain, and she had been part of the Indignados movement
and she had come over to help. And the thing about Occupy that we still here right, is that we are the 99 percent, we are the 99 percent and they are the one percent, and that gave us a language for
talking about a problem that we had for a long time, that we had basically lost the language for. We had lost the language for, you know, what we would call, some of us, class struggle. So in
addition to bringing back really types of direct action, this tactic of Occupation and really expanding on this thing that we had seen beginning in Wisconsin, we could talk about this. When I talked
to the organizers behind the Our Walmart strikes, they said you know this Occupy language allowed us to talk about the Walton family, these people who have more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of
America, and how ridiculous that is, and those people could actually afford to pay their employees a little bit more money considering how much wealth they're sitting in. And of course the Occupy
encampments ended up being evicted, in many cases very violently, by police, and I will come back to that subject shortly. But a couple spinoffs that I think are important to talk about are Occupy
Homes, and I started this off by quoting an Occupy Homes organizer, and Strike Debt or The Debt Collective.
The Occupy Homes organizers took this idea of occupying and holding a space and said what if we could actually use this to keep people from losing their homes in foreclosure. Whether those
foreclosures were, you know, quote, unquote legitimate as in people who had lost their job and couldn't pay their mortgage, or whether in some cases these were people who were being foreclosed on
completely illegally. They would combine the tactic of holding this space, moving a bunch of people in, pitching tents on the lawn, blockading the home, with doing community organizing, pressure
campaigns, protests outside of bank offices, traveling to bank shareholder meetings, and managed to save a bunch of homes. Of course you can't stop a six million home or so foreclosure wave home by
home so, you know, in the large sense it didn't, but on a smaller sense it did work. And then one of my favorite ideas to come out of Occupy was the idea of the Debt Strike. And I wanted to write
about this and I was really thrilled when the Debt Collective managed to pulled one off last year with students, graduates of Corinthian Colleges, which is a for-profit college chain that went under
when the Department of Education started to investigate what they were doing with all of their federally-backed student loans. But those same federally-backed student loans the Department of
Education was determined to enforce the students paying back. And so a group of, it started off as 15, it is now over 200, students went on strike and said we're not paying you back. And some of them
have gotten debt forgiveness, the Department of Education is still doing that individually, person by person, which again you cannot solve a crisis this big one by one. But, again, it's a start.
And I find significant the mortgage debt and the student debt work because these were the two things that you're told to do to become middle-class. You get a college degree, you buy a house, you're
supposed to be safe. And instead those things have become the ways that you sink out of the middle class. So after 2012, after the Occupy encampments had been evicted, things are supposed to be
quietening down, but then we had the beginnings of some other uprisings, the Chicago teachers strike in the fall of 2012, I'm sure most of you have heard about this. And the Chicago teachers, you
?
strike for a lot of things, and of course the law said that they could only strike over wages and benefits. But, they did a very, very good job of organizing their community and saying we're striking
for the school Chicago students deserve, that our working conditions are our students' learning conditions and if our working conditions are bad your children's learning conditions are bad. And so
when they went on strike, and when they may go again on strike again this fall, they did a really good job of communicating with the city, and 67 percent of Chicago parents, despite the huge hardship
of not taking being able to take your kid to school every day, supported the strike. And we can talk for quite a long time about the situation that's gone on in Chicago after the strike, the 50
schools closing, teachers laid off, the hunger strikes to save one of those particular schools, it is I think an ongoing movement and it connects up with a lot of other things that are happening in
Chicago.
And then in the fall of 2012 we saw first Walmart workers go on strike for the first time ever, and then the Fight for 15, the fast food workers first strike ever in New York City. And so, both of
these, I think they have obviously have some things in common, they're both projects that didn't revolve around immediately or possibly ever getting workers to vote on Union contracts, but they
relied on getting a few people to go on strike for a day in a bunch of different places, and by doing that, sort of shaking up public opinion, and punching above their weight class is my favorite
metaphor. And we've really seen those things, in Seattle right now which was the first place, the first major city to vote for 15 dollars an hour minimum wage. The Walmart workers have had a little
bit more struggle but they also got Walmart to agree, to, well, Walmart will never admit that they had anything to do with it but, Walmart raised its starting wage first to nine and then ten dollars
an hour. It's not enough but it's something. And the Fight for 15 leads me rather well into what we call Black Lives Matter and the Movement for Black Lives, because of course we know who works in
fast food restaurants right, fast food restaurants, Walmart, the staff in these places is largely people of color, they're largely women. And when you have a low-wage job you have a litany of other
struggles, some of which are, well, we'll get there. The leaders of the Fight for 15 are young black and Latino workers and they understand very well that their struggles are connected. As Charlene
and Miriam were saying today, they really illustrate the fact that the Movement for Black Lives is not just about police violence, it is about all sorts of kinds of violence including economic
violence. And it's hard to pick a beginning for, well it's hard to pick a beginning for almost anything I'm talking about here, but particularly the Movement for Black Lives, the media tends to date
it to Ferguson. I start in the story in my book with, really with the story of the fast food, excuse me, of the Trayvon Martin killing. But, you know, Amy Goodman was talking about Troy Davis last
night and I remember people turning up at occupy Wall Street in I am Troy Davis shirts and there was a lot of work overlapping because the occupiers were learning for the first time what it was like
to face massive police repression. They started joining protests against stop and frisk in New York and other places. The occupation in Oakland, California was named after after Oscar Grant who was a
young man who was killed by transit police. And so, the seeds for this were there as well. And so when Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, there were some networks in place already that
helped the protest around that become what they did and a lot of organizations, Charlene was talking earlier about PYB 100 being founded around the acquittal of George Zimmerman, Black Lives Matter
the network was founded around that time, the DREAM defenders in Florida were founded around that time, they marched from Daytona, Florida to Sanford and had a sit-in outside the police department
demanding that Zimmerman be arrested which he finally was. And so, yeah I think in Ferguson, things became clear, obviously we saw really horrific videos of militarized police cracking down on
people, and we also saw a community that was very aware of the fact that the police served to extract wealth from their community. They were very aware that the city was funded largely with the fines
and fees that they got from being pulled over and missing a court appearance and all of these things. And they really were quite aware again of the connections between the state violence that they
were facing and the poverty they were living in, their low-wage jobs. I met several Fight for 15 organizers who were part of that, they held die ins at the convenience stores that they were striking.
 
And so, you know, again, we could talk about this all night, I'm running out of time. In North Carolina of course there was a Moral Mondays movement that went in about, that began about the summer of
2013 around a raft of different bills, the most known is probably the voting rights restrictions but there were also cuts to Medicaid, there was slashing school funding, and they also, under the
banner of moral action, fought for abortion rights and LGBT rights and they're continued to fight this year as North Carolina has passed a really draconian restriction on the rights of transgender
people in the bathroom in public places. And so, for that again I could talk about this all night, but I think that there was a hunger to be able to reclaim progressive protest and say this is not
just about the law and it's not just about some technocratic fixes, it's really about what's right, and what's right is on our side, it's actually not banning people from using the bathroom in
public.
And of course we're here in Seattle and you all heard Kshama Sawant talk last night. And of course her campaign Dovetail with the Fight for 15, she was the first person, the first candidate for
elective office to endorse that as an actual Bill that should pass and not just like, oh yeah maybe someday. And I don't think it's insignificant that she was a Socialist running for office and that
she was the first one who wasn't afraid of what kinds of things they would call her. And, you know, I think that she has a point when she says at this point it's not the S word people are afraid of
any more, the C word is the ones ruining their lives. And, you know, as Fran was saying, this year we saw 12 million people, 43 percent of the Democratic Party vote for a guy who went on CNN in the
very first debate and was asked if he was a Capitalist and he said no I'm not a Capitalist, and that's, yeah, where, that's where we are, didn't win, but a lot of movement people were involved in the
Sanders campaign. A lot of them also weren't involved with the Sanders campaign and kept doing what they had been doing. I think it's important to note that the political revolution did not begin
with Bernie Sanders, it began in the Republic Windows and Doors factory, it began in the Wisconsin Capital and the Florida Capital. It began in the streets of Ferguson, Baltimore, the schools of
Chicago and Towson Park. It continues in those streets, it continues in Freedom Square in Chicago and Abolition Square in New York, in fast food restaurants, Walmart stores, and, yeah, hopefully it
will keep going. I am not going to make any predictions about where things will go next because I'm a journalist and my job is to follow the story not make it happen. But, I wanted to, before I wrap
up just mention a few things about these movements that I think the structures have in common.
We talk a lot about horizontal structures which is misread a lot as structurelessness, but instead it's really related to how these movements spread, they have spread broadly across the U.S., they
don't have a single leader, they often have a lot of different leaders, there are multiple organizations for instance in the Movement for Black Lives. They are intersectional movements, Kimberly
Crenshaw spoke here today so I know I don't have to explain intersectionality to anybody. They are disruptive as we have been talking about and will no doubt talk about more. And in terms of demand,
I just want to end with the Vision for Black Lives platform that was just released this month because I think it's an incredible document, I think everybody should read it and actually try to engage
with it. It is comprehensive, it is well-researched, it is incredibly deeply thought-out, it took a year of work of 50 organizations. And one of the things that I've seen over and over again is there
are short-term demands, like the Abolition Square encampment in New York demanded the firing of Bill Bratton who has since resigned. Close private prisons which the Obama Administration has now said
it's going to do on the federal level. There are medium term demands, decriminalize drugs, create universal healthcare. And there are long-term, transformative demands, end racism, and Capitalism.
And, you know, over and over, while I was reporting this book, I heard people saying we can't go back, we can't go back to normal, the old normal was diseased, the old normal doesn't work anymore.
And so, as I said, I am a journalist, I don't create the future, organizers create the future, but we're seeing glimpses in these occupations and these protests of what the future might be, and I'm
still optimistic, so I will end there.
[Applause]
>> Our third speaker from the other shore is Paul Mason who will broaden this conversation out globally.
[Applause]
>> Thank you. So, in a minute I'm going to show a bit of fieldwork that I did as, or as we call it, reporting. There's bit of debate I think at this conference about, you know, activists,
sociologists, and we the journalists are in the middle of it because a journalist really is just an anthropologist just with no scruples and a methodology backdated back to the 19th century and a
one-hour deadline. So what you're about to see is a piece of film that I shot myself on the 2nd of June, 2013 at the, in the second day of the reoccupation of Gezi Park in Istanbul, by what I think
is one of the classic modern network social protest movements. And because it's slightly unedited and I sent it myself via Vimeo it's just as it was, as I published it on the hour that it happened,
and I rushed out again to do more, so if our colleagues at the back can fire this up.
[cheering and shouting, street noise]
So the [INAUDIBLE] and people are just going. I'd say most of these people are the urban middleclass, not the core.
[cheering and shouting, street noise]
So, you can, it's an interesting scene. They occupied this Square, that they were trying to defend from being turned into a shopping mall by the President Erdogan, at that point Prime Minister
Erdogan. It was symbolic because it was about green space in the city, but what it was really about was that Erdogan's government, the AK Party, a Conservative Islamic party that has to live
alongside what they call call themselves, the 50 percent, the 50 percent of Turkish society that is secular-minded, that is feminist, that is educated, that is Western oriented, and they'd felt, in
the 12 to 18 months before that, the beginnings of encroachment by Islamism into their lives. So Erdogan bans alcohol from campuses, he, by Presidential decree. People start coming up to him in the
streets, women who are wearing bare midriff tops, which is quite common among urban young women, and saying you can't wear this, and this feeds into the idea that they're going to defend the space as
a way of defending their lifestyle. And having occupied it with a tent camp and being attacked by the cops and then reoccupied it, what you saw there was the beginnings of a practice, quite a
performative practice if you look at it, of marching down the hill to see how far you can get before the police attack you. So they were constantly moving the space that they'd occupied again and
again. The interesting thing for me there watching it was where women were and where they weren't, this is a Muslim country where the government believes they should be wearing a headscarf, there was
nobody wearing a headscarf there. There were some anti-capitalist Muslims in the camp who did wear headscarves but they were a kind of oddity to everybody else. They are very, you can very clearly
see that crowd could really easily have been, minus the violence I think, you know, in any of the American protests, and the, of course when it gets to the fighting bit, it's men, and what's really
interesting is it's football fans, because if you know Turkey, the football fans hate each other's teams so much that they have organized ritualized violence that sometimes leads to death. And what I
saw them do just before that is the men would stand together in all the different team's shirts and they'd take the shirts off and pass them along and wear each other's colors, which is an amazing
thing. So, but you can see a very performative kind of violence, it was real violence that was, you know, the bangs you hear are lethal CS gas canisters being fired straight at people.
Numerous people lost eyes, limbs, there were about deaths during the time I was there. So, for me that was a classic modern network social movement. Ultimately what it achieved, he backed off from the
proposal to build the shopping mall, but three years down the line we've had a military coup attempt, the counter-coup is ongoing, all of these people are already repressed anyway because the
Internet is surveilled, there's lots of blacklisting of people from academia etcetera. So look, they're in a counterrevolutionary phase, but I think what they felt at their height, and what I felt
covering it, was that it was a quintessential social movement in the sense that it used social media to circumvent the sense of the biased press, it framed its own narrative, shaking the official
ideology to its foundations. We went just after that to a conservative town a hundred miles into Asia Minor, way away from the urban centers, and all the elderly, you know the Imams, you can't
interview a woman on the street in this town, they were, what they were worried about was the revolution spreading to their town. How did they do it? They did things like women, in this Square that
was occupied, would hold daylight mass yoga sessions in their leotards. And believe me, the conservative media could not believe their eyes to see women's bodies displayed, not nude but just simply
doing yoga. The humor they used, the constant undermining of the official pronouncements by Erdogan, the turning of Erdogan into a figure of fun, was all quintessential about what we do, and as I
say, the using of the symbolism, so the symbolism of division, which is the football shirt, being used to suddenly be a symbol of unity.
And on the rioting bits of it, I interviewed people who were anarchists, people who I describe as a pissed off, muscular guy with a gym membership and a sports car, you know, ex-Army people. So, a bit
like what you've begun to see actually in some of the Black Lives Matter things, so people being drawn actually from sections of society that you wouldn't think would be drawn there. And of course at
the heart of it was occupying a space, and demonstrably taking into that space, the principles of network and egalitarian and horizontal lifestyle. So, a huge pile of free medicine, a huge pile of
free food, people going around with cigarettes, cigarettes are popular in Turkey, and young people would pick them up and they would foist it onto you, they would say you must take this free food
because it's part of our, what this is about. Now, in covering that movement and the social movements that have erupted, I date it from if you include the Iranian 2009 movement, it's definitely 2009
and then 2010 you get the student occupations here, we had student occupations in Britain and in France at the same time. That's the start for me and what can we say that added, what's different
about them, to the movements that you Francis wrote about and that we know from the 60s, 70s and 80s onwards. I think one of the most important things is that the activists have a theory. Look,
Shakespeare's writing plays about the modernity of Elizabethan England, but if you went up to with a microphone and said what's going on William Shakespeare, he'd say well there's something weird
about how people use money, attitudes toward love are changing, hypocrisy's on the rise but, you know, if you said to him, actually it's the rise of mercantile capitalism, it would have been a great
revelation.
These activists go into what they're doing knowing your book, and knowing that there is a theory exactly about resource mobilization versus horizontality that they having their heads, because many of
them have indeed studies, and in fact it doesn't take them long to understand. And as you talked about, there Sarah, people from Indignados Movement in Spain going to Occupy, there were people there
who had been in the Indignados Movement. I saw people Tweet from Tahir Square in Egypt on the Day of the Camels as it's called, the big counterattack by the Statue using Camel-backed Cavalry, who
Tweeted, who I'd actually met in a English student occupation two months before. So, it's this ability to know what you are doing and have a theory of it, and then to, and for one movement to
influence the other very directly and overtly.
I think another thing I would say is that the individuals, we call them now in sociology networked individuals, Castell's book on this I think for me is a touchstone, and he describes it, the creation
of an online identity and an online community and then the the taking of it into physical space, that's one thing. The other thing is is that the individuals themselves begin to understand how
powerful an individual can be. So, you know, I'm from a generation that spent my youth in the Labor movement, where he learned to sublate our individuality and ourselves and, you know, there's no
tall poppies etcetera, but I think the activists I've observed begin to understand how important it is for them to be mentally healthy, for them to have time off, to develop their own practice, to
reflect. They do all these things and they encourage each other to do so. Why? Because they understand that one person can do a lot, given the technological means at their disposal, and one person
who has learned to mess up the system and to annoy and to trigger power is really powerful if it can do it again somewhere else. What they commonly describe is their intent is to confront the state,
or the system or the elite, with facts and events they can't deal with but have it. That is overtly part of what people think they're doing when they're doing stuff like that.
The other thing I think it's important is the power of imagination. Because ideas and information can be objectified quickly using social networks, using information technology, no active imagination
is wasted, in the sense that if you can imagine it you can kind of imagine doing or building it. And I think, you know, although the seminal movements of the 1960s were full of imagineers and poets,
I'm talking about something at a much more immediate and visceral level, that people will sit around and challenge each other to push their own boundaries of what is possible in the moments of the
demo itself. And even that Tahir Square, Viszi Park occupation developed a dynamic within it very quickly where it feed off, I saw, for those of who want to look it up on Vimeo, all the stuff from
that time I did is there, Paul Mason Vimeo, there's another video I did where I saw a guy dissuade people from going down to attack the cops because it was bringing so much tear gas to, it was
affecting sort of the ordinary people. Now, what I've observed in the covering of it, since 2011 through 2013 through to know, is I think we are on something that is a kind of different way of
telling the story you told Francis about the relationship of these movements to power and structure. You get Occupy, Occupy Sandy which is, you know, kind of the midrange for me, and then Sanders and
Black Lives Matter. Sanders is very clearly a move by some of the people in those movements to structure. In the U.K. you get the U.K. student movement. UK Uncut was very important though, UK Uncut
was simply occupying Starbucks branches and bank branches that didn't pay tax until what happened, the government took tax avoidance seriously, and some of these companies, Starbucks included,
voluntarily paid more tax than their accountants told them they had to. So you get, that's a classic triggering, kind of annoying confronting movement, but now many of the people who were involved in
the U.K. students and the UK Uncut and UK Occupy, brief as it was, are now the cadres of, the cadres I think you call it here, of the Corbyn movement, far more so than the mythical Trotskyists
interest that the right-wing press is obsessed with.
The very clear progression is the Indignados movement in Spain of 2011, and something like eight million people believed they were part of that movement, to now, you've got Podemos, and Podemos as a
party is a work in progress but it was a decision by the leaders of that movement to say, we can't go on getting our heads kicked in and rubber bullets and truncheons, you know, driving us off the
street, there's got to be something more, so they create their own party. And he first attempt bombs, gets 1.4 percent, and the second attempt gets 12, and now 20 percent and they are as big as the
mainstream Socialist party. You may or may not know that Podemos controls three major cities in Spain, Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid, and in those cities you've now got basically somebody who's
?
into the institutions, it's quite rapid for such people.
You asked about Greece and I think the interesting thing is the Greek movement was occupying the Squares at the same time as the Indignados, May, June, 2011, because of the austerity program, and
Syriza as a classic Euro Communist party, had grown up alongside that and drew strength from it. I know personally members of the Black Bloc who joined Syriza because they realized, again, that the
limits of the horizontal action they were taking, given the Labor movement in Greece , very structured and very conservative in the way it acts in in social crises, they just realized that the action
was going to be in politics. But, the interesting thing from the Greek point of view is that the Greeks had a, or the Greek Euro Communist Party that became Syriza, it was almost the author of the
European understanding of what you do with social movements which is the work of Nicos Poulantzas, a Greek Marxist who, in the 1970s, wrote that parties need to create social movements so that they
can, not control, and he overtly said not control them, so that the social movement can frame and create the social conditions for the rise and the emergence to power of the Left Party. The problem
was, having done that, if this were Syriza 's Central Committee it would be this big, 250 people, the front five rows would be men with gray hair. And the movement never translated itself into the
party itself, it has a youth wing in government, it had many people who understood horizontality, it just couldn't practice it. Five Stars in Italy, the Pirate Party in Iceland, again, on the verge
of taking power, all born in the last five years, six, seven years rather, out of horizontality, but have moved towards having to create new facts in government.
Now, to come to a conclusion, before talking about the Corbyn thing specifically, I think what I, my view is that it's not just a moment where social movements have become popular again, but because,
unlike in the 1960s, I think that whether you believe this is an illusion or not, many of the young people involved in these movements believe the most revolutionary thing they could do would be to
put a party into government that switches off the neoliberal, self-reproduction mechanism. You all know that Neoliberalism recreates itself every day, the market is not spontaneous, the state creates
it. You have to keep privatizing the prisons, you have to keep privatizing the schools. And what a lot of people, certainly in Europe and even the people there in Turkey, had allowed themselves to
imagine was that just, if they could play the game of electoral politics, and come up with parties that were not controlled by the one percent, they could actually step into power, and they wouldn't
have to do revolutionary political acts along the kind of, you know, Marxist or anarchist fantasy kind of script, but they would simply govern without using the neoliberalist tools. And that of
course I think has been seen as very challenging by the elite, and it is what essentially the European horizontal Left is its, that's its project. Of course there are some who want to just remain
horizontal, remain in the camps, etcetera, but that is the project.
And I think this is what leads me just to finish, you probably want to know a bit about Corbyn. I am, in addition to being a journalist, a Labour Party member and active in the movement that has
brought Corbyn to the leadership of Labour. So Corbyn is as is left wing as Sanders, very similar to Sanders. He's supported by the Unions who have moved Left and quite a serious, quite Marxist, most
of the Unions have a very Marxist critique of neoliberalism, they don't want to just reform it, they want to end it as an economic model. And really, the salient fact is that with playing a terrible
self-destruct role in the Scottish independence referendum, Scotland itself has effectively a mass radical social movement for independence, Labour opposed it. By doing that Labour kind of destroyed
itself in Scotland, and it's, now with the Brexit, it's likely that Scotland will leave the U.K. Now, when people began to realize that things inside Labour, what they realized was that the electoral
logic of the old appeal to the Center, even if you didn't like it but you kind of thought it might work, was no longer going to work, and Labor's membership, much to the surprise of Corbyn himself,
put him into the leadership because they said well we'd just rather have an old style Socialist party. If the route to power is no longer through the Center then let us return to our roots. He only
planned to come second and he had come first. He had a then, a nine-month standoff with the Party bureaucracy, he's running the Opposition in Parliament, it is a statutory position, you get money
from the State, it's a big office and it's very impressive, but he he's got no control over most of his own lawmakers, and no control over the Party HQ. And so he sits there for nine months trying to
make it work, and it doesn't work, and then they move against him after the Brexit vote, and so that's now led to the second big search, I think about 60,000 extra people joined to make him leader,
joined the Labour party. After he became leader, 130,000 people joined, making it already the biggest Left party in Europe. And then when the Party bureaucracy last month moved to disenfranchise the
entire 130, 000 who joined since January, they gave a two day window for people to pay 25 pounds, so what's that? You know, 35 bucks, to join temporarily to vote for the leader, hoping that it would
filter out the poor, and allow lots of celebs and middle-class people, who hate Corbyn, to join and vote him down. And in that two day period, online, 185,000 extra people joined the Party. So it's
now got 600,000 members, it is an astonishing thing. Corbyn them himself had to confront the question, how do we win an election, because the attack on him is you're unelectable, you're too left-wing
you're splitting the Party, the press is entirely against him, exactly as they are with Sanders, except instead of ignoring him as with Sanders, he's on the front page every day, he's an anti-Semite,
he's a racist, he's a misogynist, he's a security risk, this is what the right-wing, Murdoch-inspired press say about him every day.
Now, the answer Corbyn finally came up with is, we are a social movement. And for a Social Democratic leader, an official leader of the Party that is part of the Party of European Socialists, and one
of the oldest socialist parties in the world, to say what he said, quote, "We are a social movement and we will only win the next general election because we are that movement of people all around
?
membership through bureaucratic means, the press hasn't even begun to fire the ultimate, whatever they have in their pockets to fire at him, you know, finally in the last weeks of the campaign we
don't know. And if he wins the Party is likely to split with the Left, the Right would leave, the press would get behind them, there'll be two, it's bad you know? But, the, what's not going away is
the 600,000 and who are they? They're a mixture, they are Trade Union people and they are a lot of young people. And those young people again, come ready imbued with social movement theory, you'll be
very surprised how many of them have college degrees, studied social science, you know when you go to any of the things what's on the floor are Fanon, you know it's always Fanon, it's always
Foucault, it's the books they're reading as they sit around on the floor. And if you peel back, you know just as with here, you know if you peel back the Occupy sticker you find a Obama sticker from
2008, and then and you peel that back, you find a Howard Dean sticker, we have that as well, there's a kind of layer upon layer of practice that they're bringing to this. And I think we will, however
briefly, end up with having a Social Democratic Party, not just controlled by an all-star Leftist, but one who very much in the same vein as Sanders, has, by necessity, been forced to look to the
much more radical and horizontal social movement practice because there is no other practice for them to use, faced with the levels of blocking and framing by the elite, against them. So, that's
where we are, thank you.
[applause]
>> Thank you all very much. I think we have about ten minutes or so for questions or comments if anybody would like to come to the mics here and our panelists will be pleased to answer you. Yes, could
you identify yourself.
>> Hi, my name's Mari Matsioka and I actually came here, I came here with the Balavakian Institute who's developed a whole new synthesis of Communism and one of the things that I really want to
address here is this question of illusions right now. I mean we have a world where we have Islamic Fundamentalism or U.S. Imperialism warring it out in Syria and all of these places around the world
and the refugees that are coming across and drowning in these oceans, these are things compelled by a system of Capitalism and Imperialism. You know Black Lives Matter, it's very important that
people rose up, but what you have every day is you watch a new person being killed on video, and not one cop is being indicted. We have to understand deeply the oppression of black people in this
country and why the police are doing their job, they're keeping a system and position that keeps people oppressed all around the world. And just one more thing, around Egypt and all these great
uprisings, yes they were wonderful, but the problem is the State. It's not something you can just pressure this way and that, it's actually the armed enforcement of a system. And this is what they
learned in Egypt, the Army was not their friends, and a million people were wrong when they went along with that. And [inaudible] has developed a scientific understanding that stares that straight in
the face, and says we have to make an actual revolution and we can build a whole different kind of society, but we can't sidestep it. Trump is a fascist. We have a fascist and a fascist base and a
brown shirt organization on the streets in this country today, and then we have a war criminal who the Generals are saying is your best bet against him. This is an outrageous, illegitimate system, we
need to make a revolution, and I want you to speak to that reality versus some make-believe about how we just keep doing this thing over and over again. The same.
>> You said, Obama you said every step of the way, we're going to have faith in this system, I just want you to address that please.
>> Thank you.
>> Thank you. We'll take one or two more questions from the floor and then ask our panelists to respond. In the center there.
>> Yeah. Hi, Barry Idlan from Miguel University. My question is for Paul Mason and the idea that what's different about the current movements is that they have a theory. And while I certainly am
prepared, I agree that they do have a theory, I would want to push back on the idea that previous movements did not have a theory, so what would you say to the organizers of the CIO or the Communist
Party of the 1930s, the New Left of the 1960s, did they not have a theory? And if they did have a theory, you know, what's different about the theory that we have now that makes it somehow radically
different from those?
>> Thanks Barry. And the woman here, I can't see you but could you identify yourself?
>> Sure. Can you hear me? Okay. I'm Sarah Grunberg, I am from Ithaca College. And my, the first half of my question is for Sarah. I'm wondering if, in your book, there's any mention of the involvement
of adjunct and contingent faculty in movements such as the Fight for 15. You know, I know for a fact that there has been a lot, especially recently, of unified voices in terms of labor and what's
happening in terms of the contingency of faculty in the United States, 50 percent being adjuncts, 70 percent of all faculty in the United States being contingent at this point which is a huge switch
from what we've seen historically in the 1970s. And I guess my next question is to everybody else here, what is our role as sociologists in challenging this system that continues to exploit faculty
and prevents us from being able to do quality research and serve our students and be able to live a life with dignity? Yeah.
>> Before our panelists respond I just want to mention on that topic, that for those of you who are early birds or insomniacs, on Tuesday morning the business meeting of the ASA will have a discussion
on this very topic of, well the specific topic is pay parity for contingent faculty, and that will be led by some representatives of the new ASA Task Force on this topic which is just beginning its
work, so if you can roll out of bed early, join us for that meeting which is usually kind of poorly attended but I' hoping that this topic will attract some somewhat bigger attendance. And if not,
there will be other opportunities to speak to that. But, let me now each ask our panelists to respond, we probably have just time for this one round but let's see what happens. Do you want to start
Fran and then we'll just go in the same order. There's a mic there if you don't want to come up here but you do need to use something, yeah.
>> Well I think one of the questions was directed specifically to Paul, do contemporary movements have a theory? All movements have some kind of theory. They have a theory about how what they are
doing can answer their grievances, can cause changes that will somehow answer their grievances. But that's probably true of Melanesian cargo cults as well, that they did have a theory, they had a
theory that if they burned their crops, that their ships would come in laden with cargo. So it depends what you mean by a theory to some extent. I wanted to comment about sociologists and the role of
precarious workers who are now faculty adjuncts. I think that there is a major problem in American universities, it's sort of multi-sided, it's not just the rise of a huge precarious workforce, it's
also the increase of inequality within the university. Our Administrators are are getting huge remuneration, and adjuncts of course are part of the Fight for 15. At the same time, more and more of
the university's functions are being farmed out to for-profit firms. I mean there's a lot that's going on in the universities, and I do think that not just sociologists, but that tenure track faculty
?
these issues. But, so yes sociologists but not just sociologists.
>> Do we have to turn it on? Can you all hear me? Hi. Yeah, on the adjunct faculty question, there's a little bit in this book about, I actually have the idea for the next book so if you all buy this
one I'm more likely to be able to write the next one, that was a really obnoxious plug, but I do a labor podcast as Ruth said at the beginning and we cover the adjunct question and graduate student
organizing and all of these issues a lot because I was in a graduate student union and so was my colleague Michelle Chen currently is in one. And, yes, just as a person who is not in academia at the
moment I would second everything that Fran on this subject and I will leave the question about theory to Paul.
>> Well. See I think the equivalent would be, if you think about the Flint strike and the Flint Occupation, the equivalent would be that people walked into that, obviously some of the activists did
walk into that with Marxism, there were Trotskyists, there were people that understood that, but the equivalent would be if they walked into the occupation with Trotskyism in their head, and also
saying to each other, hey guys, we are white members of the Labor aristocracy and look at, you know when the women came in and threw things over the wall, that they said, and this relates to women's
oppression. There would be that much more high level of theory than what we see, and I wrote a book called Live Working or Die Fighting, one chapter of which deals with the Flint strike, and I can
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tactic fitted into the wider movement to create the CIO. I mean it happened, it was an emergent movement. So I do think, I will stand by the assertion that it's not just any old theory, it's the idea
that we've got theory-guided individuals from the start almost dragging and dropping tactics that they've seen somewhere else ad saying, I know how this fits into the wider world around me in a
conscious way. I just want to say one thing about sociology as well though, I mean I think that therefore, I come across all the time people who have studied social science who are in these movements
and so, like it or not, this is an actual question of practice for you. You could ignore it and say well take away what you will from this lecture, I'm not telling you to go and occupy somewhere. But
the fact is you are already in a cycle of learning and imagination, because the students who are coming to you come to you, obviously some of them come to you simply just to, you know, become social
workers or something, but others will come to you wanting to learn where their life problem fits into the theories that sociology has handed down. And so I think it's the same for us as journalists,
they're saying to us you must cover things in a certain way, you must be self-reflective yourself, and therefore our practices had to change once we are no longer simply, so, we're a hierarchy, if
you're covering a strike you tend to cover a hierarchy, that's easy. When you're a hierarchy covering a horizontal and chaotic mess, it really challenges you in your hierarchical behavior, and I
think therefore it will challenge you in that sense as well.
>> Okay I think we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you all very much for spending your Saturday night with us.
And. Once again, in ten minutes there will be a meeting in this room that addresses partially at least what the last questioner asked about what sociologists might do about this, Sociologist for
[applause]
Change is meeting here in ten minutes so, you're all welcome to stick around. And hopefully, otherwise we'll see you tomorrow, thanks.